Tokyo Quartet showed amazing virtuosity

The venerable and acclaimed Tokyo String Quartet brought this year’s Ottawa Chamber Music Festival to a close Saturday at Dominion-Chalmers. Its well-chosen program included quartets by Schubert, Bartók and Debussy.

It’s hard to believe that Canadian violinist Martin Beaver has occupied the first chair of the quartet for eight years already. He helped solidify the ensemble’s musical identity after a period in which its first violinists came and went. Its forward, polished sound has been stable for some years now.

The concert opened with Schubert’s Quartet no. 10 in E-flat....It’s a lovely piece and the Tokyo players brought exactly the right flavour and delicacy to it. Among the highlights were the exquisite Trio in the second movement and the Haydnesque slow movement. The balance and blend were, for all intents and purposes, perfect.

Bartók’s String Quartet no. 4 is one of his greatest works and has become increasingly popular in recent years. The Tokyo interpretation was bold and compelling....It was hard not to be carried away by the amazing virtuosity of the playing that never seemed to falter in the smallest detail.

Debussy’s one and only String Quartet concluded the program. Of the three works on the program, this benefited the most from the Tokyo style of playing. All four movements were superb, but even at that the slow movement, the third, was outstanding, probably the most beautiful rendition that this listener has heard.

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Richard Todd, The Ottawa Citizen
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